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Archives: January 2013

Best Telecommuting Practices with Small Business VoIP
January 9th, 2013

In today’s world, small businesses need to do everything they can to stay competitive; flexibility can mean the difference between success and failure. Telecommuting can be an attractive tool that enables entrepreneurs to cast a wide net to attract top talent, while helping businesses impress potential hires with flexible schedules and work-from-home opportunities. However, savvy business owners will realize that there are several key factors to consider before allowing employees to work offsite.

-          Does my network allow for telecommuting?  This is the first question to ask when looking at offsite options. Modern businesses can take advantage of Small Business VoIP systems that are able to follow their employees from the desk to their home office and on the road. This ability allows higher productivity without sacrificing features and quality. By choosing a VoIP-based system, employers can use broadband connections instead of landlines for better service.

-          Do I have a comprehensive telecommuting policy? Every business interested in telecommuting should have operating procedures that reflect their ideals when working outside the office.  Are employees always on call or during business hours? Are there any exceptions? Do they use the same extensions/voicemail boxes when working from home? These are just some minute details that should be hammered out when allowing offsite workers. The more comprehensive the rules are ahead of time, the less potential downtime will occur when something goes wrong.

-          What kind of telephone options does my business need? Modern VoIP service providers have a variety of options to cater to different business types that may be looking to take advantage of telecommuting. Some will charge for the options, others will provide everything for a low price. It’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for and doing comparative research before settling for on the best provider for your businesses unique needs. Better safe than sorry.

Regardless whether you’re still just thinking about allowing your employees to telecommute, or already shopping around for VoIP service providers to support home-based employees, it pays to for small business owners to do their homework before adding another service. Although telecommuting can improve productivity and lower costs, it’s not necessarily the optimal option for every type of business.

If telecommuting does make sense for your business, it’s important to take the necessary steps to research the VoIP communications options needed to support remote employees and define clear policies that set clear expectations for you and your employees.

The Results Are In!
March 14th, 2011

Survey says: owners of small and medium-sized businesses see cost savings, improved productivity by adopting virtual office approach.

You may have noticed that the number of people choosing to work from the comfort of  their own homes is increasing as this lifestyle becomes more attractive to workers and employees.  This phenomenon comes as no surprise given that today’s technology and business services make working from home easier than ever.

“Small-and medium-sized business leaders are on the forefront of embracing virtual offices to boost business efficiency, cut costs and provide more flexibility to their workforces,” said Greg Brashier, COO of Virtual PBX. “At Virtual PBX, we’re responding to the needs of this growing population with technology designed to make it easy for them to stay in touch with colleagues and clients. In particular, we’ve seen strong interest in our Virtual PBX Complete solution, which allows our users to leverage the industry’s deepest feature set and the flexibility to use any phone, all at 40-80 percent savings over traditional phone services.”

Virtual PBX, inventor and leading supplier of hosted PBX services, recently learned the effect virtual offices have on businesses, surveying over 600 Small-and-medium business representatives – including CEOs, owners, partners, directors and sales managers.   The survey incorporated a wide range of topics including frequency of virtual office use, perceived effectiveness in a virtual setting, virtual office costs and use of technology that supports virtual offices.  The results were very interesting, to say the least.

Lets start with the top reasons SMBs adopt virtual offices.  According to the survey, the number one reason to work from home, chosen by 61 percent of respondents, was flexibility, followed closely by cost savings (54 percent), geographic distance of staff (42 percent) and the desire to reduce commute time, cost, and pollution (41 percent).

So just how many people work virtually, from home offices, coffee shops and other not-traditional locales?  A whopping 60.9 percent of respondents work from a virtual office almost all the time and 27 percent will work outside the office 2-10 days a month.  In addition 57 percent of survey-takers indicate that half or more of their workforce works outside the office during a typical month.

The below results may be part of the reason working from home is so popular among SMBs:

•   The majority of respondents – 59 percent – feel they are more  effective working from a virtual location than in a traditional office.

•   On the cost-savings front, 43 percent of the SMB leaders reported they save $1,000 or more each month on items such as rent, IT equipment,     phone service and supplies by using a virtual office. (Eight  percent of this group saves more than $10,000/month.)

Cell phones are extremely popular among virtual workers, with 87 percent of respondents using them as a business communications device.  However, landlines are still quite popular, coming in as the second choice at 49 percent.  VoIP phone lines and computer-based VoIP soft phone are used by 25 percent and 20 percent of the survey-takers, respectively.

According to the representatives, having both a local and a toll free number is extremely important in a virtual office, allowing them to appeal to both local customers and those outside their region.  Two-thirds of respondents have a local number for callers to reach them on while the same number also indicated they have a toll-free number.

Disliking “on hold” music, our survey takers much preferred their phone system features include “custom music or messages while on hold”.  This feature was even more popular than built-in conferencing, call forwarding to any phone, and caller preview.

On a racier note, some participants were all too honest when asked what they wear when working virtually. 3 percent of respondents admitted to working from home in their birthday suits!  Of the remaining survey takers, 50 percent prefer the comfort of working in shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops; 37 percent dress up in business casual attire;  4 percent just stay in their pajamas and 2 percent dress to the nines in formal business attire.

So what did we learn?  Working virtually can help you to be more productive, help you save time and money, and apparently even save some people the hassle of dressing for work in the morning!  Let’s just make sure those particular employees attend the audio-only conference call!